Since John 5, opposition has been rising from the religious leaders. What has unfolds is a division among the people. Some said, “This really is the Prophet” (7:40). Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee?” (7:41).
Within this context Nicodemus defends Jesus. He tells the Pharisees to give Jesus a hearing before condemning him. They respond: “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee” (8:52).
The Irony of John 8:12
- The prophet Jonah was from Gathhepher (2 Kings 14:25), which is in Galilee.
- The Christ will shine forth from Galilee (Isaiah 9:1-2).
Whether the reader knows Jonah is from Galilee or not, the more profound irony is that “the Christ” comes from Galilee. It’s no mistake that John’s next clip begins with Jesus saying to them, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (8:12; note: 7:53-8:11 is not real Scripture from John). In recording these words, John alludes to Isaiah 9:1-2 which says, “In the latter time [God] has made glorious the way of the sea . . . Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”
What’s John doing? John presents the leaders as blind. The “light of the world” is right before their eyes, but they don’t see. They walk in darkness. They love darkness. They hate the light. They study the Scriptures, but they don’t understand them. But what will happen to them in the face of ongoing revelation, right before their eyes?!
Welcome to John 9.
The Introduction of John 9:5
Jesus’ claim, “I am the light of the world” (8:12), is used again in 9:5 to introduce the story of Jesus healing the blind man. Jesus giving sight to the blind develops the themes of sight and revelation. The blind man now sees. By the end of the chapter he believes and worships Jesus (9:38). Nevertheless, the Pharisees persist in their unbelief. In fact, the foolishness of their unbelief heightens. And Jesus says, “For judgement I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind” (9:39).
So, what happens in the face of ongoing revelation right before their eyes? For the Pharisees, their eyes get worse. Their hearts harden. Jesus becomes more and more evil in their eyes. May it not be so for the reader!
John grabs us by the shirt here. As we keep reading and “seeing” Jesus, the question is: how will we respond to the revelation we’re “seeing” in the Word? What do you believe about Jesus? Is this the Prophet? The Christ? Just a good teacher? Your Get-out-of-Hell Card? Merely someone you sing about on Sundays? Or, is he the light of your world? Is he the light that shows you God? You? How all things were made? Where all things are going? Good? Evil? Life?
Is he truly the Light of your world? Keep this in mind as you keep reading. (We’re in John 8:12 – 12:50 this week). All comments and questions welcome.